On July 27th, 2016, our theme was Consent. Featured readers included Ada Cheng, Sarah Meltzer, and Caitlin Brecht.
On July 27th, 2016, our theme was Consent. Featured readers included Ada Cheng, Sarah Meltzer, and Caitlin Brecht.
On June 29th, 2016, our theme was Crush. Featured readers included C.A. Aiken, Lauren Kapinski, Julie Marchiano, Amy Guth, Jess Merighi, and Jenny Peel.
On May 25th, 2016, our theme was Birth Control. Featured readers included Christina Brandon, Lynette Roqueta, and Ju Lee Anna.
Here’s a recording of our April 2016 show. The theme was First Time. Featured readers included Whitney LaMora Currier, Anne Elizabeth Moore, and Kaitlin Sullivan.
For tomorrow’s show, Jenny Peel, Jess Merighi, Julie Marchiano, C.A. Aiken, and Lauren Kapinski make like Lil’ Kim and Lil’ Cease. That’s right, we’re telling stories about crushes. Late 90s hip-hop moves can neither be confirmed nor denied.
Lauren Kapinski is a writer, a Wisco woman, and a recent transplant to the City of Broad Shoulders. In her short time living here, she has bested a knight, was the first intern at the Paper Machete, and sold a self-published chapbook titled Beats Per Minute. Like Chicago, she doesn’t have an obvious nickname but has sometimes been called: The Kapin, Our Lady of Perpetual Anxiety, and Norman. She generally has no idea what she’s doing but relies on her Midwestern charm, Muppet-like facial expressions, and foolish tenacity to figure it out. You can follow this broad and these shoulders on Instagram and Twitter @honestbabel.
Jenny Peel is a native Chicagoan, currently residing in the wild north of Evanston. She works for an educational publisher as an image researcher, which allows her to brush up on her science and social studies. Over time, Jenny has acted in off-off- Loop theater, played in both Beatles and Led Zeppelin cover bands, and got as far as a green belt in karate. After a recent class at the Story Studio, she feels ready to share her writings with the world—or at least with a subset thereof.
Jess Merighi was born in Massachusetts and was raised on Bruins hockey until she moved to Chicago on a whim in 2013. She spends her time running the customer service department at a tech startup in the West Loop, going to shows, schooling punks about feminism, and getting injured while crafting. Her writing has appeared in Hello Giggles and Literally Darling, and most proudly, the Boston Bruins satire blog, Day’s of Y’Orr. You can find the bulk of her writing, and other random musings at JessKristaMerighi.com.
Julie Marchiano is delighted to be reading again at Miss Spoken! A Chicago-based actor, improviser, and writer, Julie has been featured on a number of live lit shows, including The Paper Machete, Story Club, Is This A Thing?, and That’s All She Wrote. She is currently performing in her first revue at The Second City, A Red Line Runs Through It. Follow her on Twitter @juliemarchiano, or do a deep dive on juliemarchiano.com.
Miss Spoken is two! Girls generally talk earlier, and we’re no exception. We’re not just girls now either, though lady live lit still has a catchy ring and I’m keeping it. We haven’t expanded so much as recognized that we always planned to include trans and non-binary performers, and hope to continue in that vein.
But yeah. Two years of themes and stories by non-dudes. When we had our first show, I don’t think we had a two-year plan for the series, or even a six-month plan. I thought I might move to LA. Carly thought she might be pregnant. One of those thoughts turned out to be true. I’m still here and so is Roan, who’d probably have better luck getting a script: seriously he’s really, really cute and Carly says he’s kind of an asshole, sounds like Hollywood material.
Two years ago, we sat in Garcia’s with our mutual friend Jasmine, who’d heard a similar idea from us: a show with a different theme every month. Girly topics. Maybe all girls. We talked and ate basket after basket of free chips, and by the end had agreed to do it. And so Miss Spoken was born, salty and boozy and feminine.
We’re still here, a ladylike (lol) presence among the multitude of other live lit shows. We feel what we felt then: having all non-dudes is not exclusionary, but expansive: people and stories often dismissed by society as unimportant, frivolous, or literally not real have a place where they’re given weight. We hear you, our audience hears you, you are funny and sad and real. In the current cultural climate, where women endure horrific harassment for talking about a fucking video game, the U.S. trails in maternity leave, and political groups threaten to take away rights enjoyed by your grandmother, your stories are more important than ever.
We also like to talk about boobs. We plan to continue that in the coming year, and hope you will join us.
There’s a lot of mostly imperfect ways to prevent pregnancy. Condoms. Pills. Getting back to their place and seeing a book called God’s Game Plan: The Athlete’s Bible. I can personally vouch for all of the effectiveness of all of these. But sometimes it breaks, you miss a day, that title’s obscured by a John Grisham book and eh, whatever. Come join Adrienne Gunn, Ju Lee Anna, Christina Brandon, Lynette Roqueta, and Elizabeth Gomez for stories of Birth Control.
Also, we’re turning two! More on our toddler status this week, and see you Wednesday.
Adrienne Gunn is a writer, editor, and humorist based in Chicago. She received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Oregon and her work has appeared in various literary magazines including McSweeney’s and PANK. Adrienne previously served as managing editor and fiction editor of TriQuarterly, the literary magazine of Northwestern University, and she regularly performs stand-up and storytelling throughout Chicago. In 2016, Adrienne’s first one-woman show Mother of the Year! debuted to sold-out audiences.
Hailing from Chicago’s crooked pinky, Ju Lee Anna is a variety entertainer with a ferocious charm and a sickeningly sweet sixth sense to make with cha-chas and chuckles. Ensemble member at Vaudezilla, she’s got a reputation for serving up a heavy hit of screwball and sizzle as slapstick burlesque delight Shirley Blazen. Ju Lee is a producer on the monthly stand-up comedy showcase Broad Squad and can be seen regularly telling audiences about her queer feminist agenda and love of Mountain Dew.
Christina Brandon is a writer and user experience researcher in retail, meaning she spends a lot of her days thinking about how people shop. She just launched her own TinyLetter, Humdrum, which consists of tiny essays on weird everyday things. She’s also furiously scribbling to finish her memoir about teaching English to university students in China. Her food writing has been published in Gapers Block, and her essays have been published in Compose, Gravel, Work Literary Magazine, and others. Her spirit animal is the kangaroo.
Lynette Roqueta is a proud Miami, FL native. She has been braving Chicago winters since December 2012. A graduate of The Second City Training Center with Improv and Acting, and The Annoyance. Also, she is part of the indie teams Combat The Beard, Barnacle with The Playground Theater, Matt Damon Improv, and Scream Theatre. Lynette has performed at The Second City, Under The Gun Theater, Bughouse, pH Comedy Theater, Playground Theater, and The Annoyance. Currently she is the producer for the web series Squat and performs at various storytelling events.
Elizabeth Gomez is an entrepreneur, stand up comic, world explorer, and a founder of an all female roller derby league. She currently spends her days agonizing on whether to put on pants. She is a Beast Woman Rising and you can see her at the kates or Drinkers with Writing Problems. You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter @JuannaRumbel since she’s too lazy to put together a website.
Can we talk about Beyoncé? Or rather, can I? I mean, since everyone is weighing in on it…
*Don’t worry. I won’t speak on the racial aspect of things since I can’t, while also acknowledging that race may or may not play into what I do want to discuss.
Like others before me who were quick to write their think-piece on the matter, I will declare myself a Sort of Fan of hers. Yes, Destiny’s Child’s songs still make me smile and in general, I’ve always enjoyed her music.
But I’m no worshipper.
When Formation came out, I rewatched it about five times in a row, fascinated. I found it powerful, eccentric, creative and tried to understand the meaning of its message without claiming any kind of ownership or overwrought opinion on/about it.
I just liked it. I liked what felt like a political statement and I liked hearing it from someone who had an understanding of it beyond my own.
When I watched the trailer for “Lemonade” on HBO Go, I was…confused. And annoyed. I remember seeing her tease something about this upcoming “once in a lifetime” event and felt even more irritated when, from what I saw, she had gone and made some kind of horror movie.
But of course, after hopping on social media, I was quickly inundated with the overwhelming response of people I like basically saying I was missing out on life if I didn’t take the opportunity to watch it.
Well. It was…incredible? Incredible in how it captivated. Incredible in how emotionally connected I was to it. Incredible in how real it felt.
I will choose, for now, to ignore the swirling talk of this all being a huge production, created and made-up by Jay and Bey to garner sales and sign people up for Tidal.
Because honestly? Even if that were even remotely true, you will never be able to convince me that Beyoncé hasn’t wondered if her husband has cheated on her and you will most likely never be able to convince me that he hasn’t.
There are two things I thought a lot about after digesting this visual and audio onslaught.
The first being: We need to talk about how Beyoncé met Jay-Z when she was SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. In a 2007 interview with Charlie Rose, Jay-Z said he met his future wife about ten years prior. She was 16 in 1997.
And while further interviews and loose details will point more to them “starting to date” when she was 18 or 19, that seems awfully convenient.
But fine. Let’s give them the 18 and then focus on the fact that he is ELEVEN YEARS HER SENIOR.
Which means, a twenty nine year old MAN was wining and dining an 18 year old GIRL.
Now here is where I’m going to start making assumptions, ones that I believe are probably true and deeply entrenched in what might be going on in Beyoncé’s mind and soul if dealing with her spouse’s infidelity.
Beyoncé was destined for stardom, for queendom, for utter domination. No question. She worked her ass off, night and day, day and night. She has been performing since she was a child. And judging from her relationship with her parents, I don’t think she was really concerned with, nor had time to have a boyfriend.
What I’m saying is, even if she lost her virginity to someone else, maybe even had sex with two people before Jay-Z (which even that I’m doubtful of), he is one of VERY FEW sexual partners she’s ever had.
So there’s this juxtaposition. We live in a society (an American one) where being sexy means you ARE sexy means you know what you’re doing in the sack.
There is no way at sixteen OR eighteen she was sexually experienced enough to know left from right, especially with a twenty nine year old man.
And whether or not she had other encounters before him, he became her everything. And depending on what kind of teacher, nurturer, partner he was, that would become her introduction to sex.
A lot of things have to go right in that scenario for her to come out of it OK.
Because again, we are expected to know what we’re doing. It’s assumed that if we look good and exude confidence and seem sexual in any way, or are sexualized without doing anything other than stand there, we internalize that and never actually talk about it.
We’re supposed to know what we’re doing based on what exactly? Movies? T.V.? Porn? The only way to get good at sex is actually having it and even then, depending on who you have it with and how open your communication is, you may never get good at it.
I’m not saying that people haven’t been able to wordlessly get someone off. But is that all you want? Just the orgasm? Also, why don’t we (as women) talk about all of the times we definitely did NOT have an orgasm?
Maybe it seems unsexy to have a discussion before or during. Why do you feel that way? Is it because everything you’ve ever seen on the screen are two people automatically connecting and having otherworldly intercourse?
Sexual attraction gets you there, but it doesn’t and can’t take you all the way. There is no way of knowing what the other person is into without working it out first.
Back to Beyoncé. Her world is coming apart on many levels due to this infidelity. Do you see me? She asks. Everyone else does. She says. He only want me when I’m not there. She says.
To her, this is unfathomable. She is THE baddest bitch on the planet, oh and also his WIFE (which again, in her mind is the ultimate…the commitment, the vows, the promises, the sacredness…to her, this is everything and being cheated it on is the equivalency of him murdering her.) This makes her feel like she is not enough and how could that possibly be?
Why would he want anyone but her?
To touch on marriage and monogamy, this is what I think causes a lot of damage for some people. For those that consider marriage a holy union, an eternal binding with no exceptions, cheating is the worst sin of them all. And a lot of people cheat.
Because it is actually asking a lot of human beings to only sleep with one person, or in general, “be” with one person for the rest of their lives.
As hard as it is to meet people, it is also not hard at all to make a connection with more than one person. If you have exes than you’ve already proven my point.
There’s no completely shutting that off. We will continue to be attracted to and attracted by other people. We will form relationships with people, get close to them emotionally and sometimes physically because that’s in our nature.
Not because our partner isn’t enough, but because there is no actual limit.
We feel because we’ve given everything to someone that they should be satisfied, fulfilled.
Which brings me to the second thing I thought a lot about: Past relationships. Actually, one in particular. I’ve never been cheated on (to my knowledge), so I can’t really speak on it. Yet I still really identified with the first half of “Lemonade”, with all of it’s anger and apathy and threats and indignation and middle fingers wagged in faces.
And the absolute contradiction telling the guy you want: “Boy, BYE.”
When you are sleeping with someone who doesn’t want to be exclusive, doesn’t want the labels and is generally kind of aloof and non-committal, it will drive you crazy.
The answer is always to not be with someone like this, but it happens.
You have no idea if you’re the side chick. You probably are. Or at the very least, you are simply one of a few, possibly many.
I remember trying to see other people in the meantime. Which didn’t really work because if I was being honest with myself, I wanted to be with him. Even though I knew well enough that we weren’t right for one another, the baseline attraction (mine to him) was undeniable.
I could not extricate myself from the situation. That out of control feeling had me going on dates with other people, having inappropriate conversations and casual meet ups with a friend of his and other people he had connections to.
So when out of the blue, the phone calls and texts stopped, I didn’t know how much of it had to do with him meeting someone else or what he knew about what I was up to when we weren’t together.
I believe it had more to do with the former, but the way in which things were left were because of the latter. As in, maybe I didn’t deserve any kind of explanation or reason or courtesy ending of our non-relationship.
On occasion, I’m still irked by this other girl. She is younger. She is prettier. And she managed to lock it down. The one thing I couldn’t do.
During the entire situation I was constantly questioning my self worth over something that wouldn’t have worked for me anyway. Seriously, at one point I was at a bar hanging out with his friends and he was there. On a date with someone.
Anyway. I’m no Beyoncé.
But I feel a lot of things when I watch and listen to Lemonade. I feel for her and I feel for me.
Sometimes I ask myself if I miss the days before having a kid. Or more accurately, do I wish I was childless now.
It happened again last night on the drive home for our show.
I got pregnant a couple of months before our debut, so I don’t even know what it would be like to stick around and drink more and see where the night took me.
Which is what I used to do. Stick around. Drink more. See where the night took me.
I felt like a wet rag packing up my things for the drive home to a nameless suburb, lamenting my early wake up call and reciting my absurd commute time and schedule to a new friend.
I can be acutely aware of being without freedom. I feel the resentment rise and then I tell myself as calmly and plainly as possible that “this is no longer about me” and it becomes easier to accept.
Because it really isn’t about me at all.
The practicalities have overtaken everything. The ones that probably should have pre-kid. The voice that would tell me it was OK to show up to work tired and hungover is silent, replaced by a louder one that chides me into calling it a night at the earliest time possible.
Upon further examination, I realize that my kid is less a barrier to my fun than the distance I am from many of the things I love and care about. Though I suppose, the kid is the reason I’m so far away to begin with.
When I decided to have him, I also knew it most likely would not be in the city. Not out of choice, but out of necessity.
We probably could have made it work. Perhaps it would have been fine. But I’m mostly assured after having an unexpected C-Section and a newborn that living with three people to help was better than one. And while I know I could have asked friends in the city to help and they would have, it’s not the same as your parents making unexpected trips to Target to buy you a table for your breast pump to make things easier.
In a world where I’m paid enough to live in the city with my kid (a number that feels astronomical at this point in time), I could see people after my kid went to sleep or invite them over to my easily accessible apartment.
(My utopia would be living in a commune like setting near all of the people I loved. Every new, cool person would build their own house in the next plot of land. There would be plenty of privacy, but also a community building where people just came and went. There would always be potlucks. There would always be a few people sipping wine or having a nightcap and chatting. There would always be kids running around and exploring. We would help each other with as much as we could, especially the important stuff like child rearing and elder care. And of course, orgies. [Haha…] Wait, am I describing a cult? A polygamous cult? Possibly. Oh well?)
Thinking about it more, I remind myself of those nights in my 20’s and early 30’s. The nights I pushed myself to go out. The ones when I stayed out too late. The ones I hardly remember.
But It’s not hard to forget the absolute loneliness and emptiness I felt coming home to no one.
It’s also not hard to forget that most of those nights were not all that worthy of being remembered or fondly looked back upon.
Not necessarily because of the activity or the company, but rather the undercurrent of desperation to make something of things, to want it to be more.
If I could have stayed last night for one more drink or on to another bar would that have been better than getting in my car, driving an hour to my house, talking with my partner about how the night went and going to bed?
It would seem so because in the moment, that’s what I wanted to do.
In the bigger picture, though, I know that in the old days, every time I was out, I was looking out of the corner of my eye, aware of the strangers around me and hoping maybe they would become something more to me. Even when I was with friends whom I loved dearly, I knew they would never be mine, all mine.
I know now that the rush I feel in meeting a new person and wondering if they will become my friend is that same initial reaction I used to have. Only now I know the limitations.
I know the limitations because even when I was single and untethered, the effort and time it takes to really be in someone’s life is a difficult task. Sometimes it felt like I was spreading myself too thin. I kept meeting people and wanting to swoop them all up and carry them with me. And of course they would slip out and become small blips on my social media radar.
All of that time I kept wanting to be wanted. That’s the twinge inside of me whenever I’m around someone new or old. “Want me.”
But what I really need is to be needed.
Sometimes that’s scary. Sometimes I resent it. Sometimes I want to run away. But I know in the end, I’d be running away to find it again.
There is a baseline now, a foundation, a layer, that’s been built. It’s the longest piece of a triangle. Every thing above it is a little shorter, takes up a little less space, demands a little less attention.
It grounds me. It humbles me. It reassures me.
It is part of me.
And I wouldn’t give it up to go back in time just to see where the night might take me.